A Canberra man who sparked chaos on-board an international flight when he allegedly threatened that he had a bomb has failed in his bid to be released on bail due to concerns about his “bizarre and irrational behaviour”.
Muhammad Arif, 45, was dramatically arrested at Sydney airport last month after he allegedly ranted at airline crew and forced the pilot to make a mid-air U-turn while en route to Kuala Lumpur.
Mr Arif appeared via videolink from Silverwater prison in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on Wednesday. His solicitor Oussama Elfawal applied for his conditional release after Mr Arif was arrested on-board Malaysian Airlines flight 122.
The plane sat on the tarmac at Sydney International Airport for several hours before Mr Arif was arrested by armed police and he was charged with making a false statement about a threat to damage an aircraft and not complying with a cabin crew’s safety instruction.
When he faced court last month Mr Arif refused to leave his cell at Surry Hills Police Station to appear via videolink but on Thursday appeared on screen in prison greens.
The court has previously been told that Mr Arif was suffering from “serious” mental health issues.
The prosecution opposed Mr Arif’s release on bail on the grounds he was a risk of endangering the community and committing further offences.
And the court was told that he was not co-operating with or accepting treatment from health officials in prison.
Mr Elfawal applied for Mr Arif to be released on the conditions he lived with a friend on the NSW-Queensland border, reported to police daily and be ordered to see his GP to complete a mental health plan.
“Something happened in Mr Arif’s life triggered a psychological response in the circumstances,” Mr Elfawal said.
Mr Elfawal argued that Mr Arif had beeen a law-abiding citizen his entire life.
“There is a complete lack of planning in relation to the offence that brings Mr Arif before the court today,” Mr Elfawal said, adding that Mr Arif had only purchased the ticket hours before takeoff.
“It was unbeknown to anyone else that he would even be boarding the plane,” Mr Elfawal added.
Police have alleged that Mr Arif claimed he had explosives on-board.
Videos posted to social media showed Mr Arif arguing with flight attendants and ranting about “Allah”.
“Are you a slave of Allah? Are you? Say it. Say it. Are you a slave of Allah?” he said in one video.
The plane landed back in Sydney and was isolated at the end of a runway while the other 200 passengers were moved to another part of the plane.
The plane sat on the tarmac for several hours before police stormed the aircraft and placed Mr Arif in handcuffs.
The court was told that even when AFP officers stormed the plane Mr Arif continued to resist and banged his head against a door.
Magistrate Ian Guy said the proposed bail conditions did not address safety concerns “in any meaningful or enforceable way”.
Mr Guy said Mr Arif had previously had a clean criminal record, held a job in Canberra but had experienced a breakdown in his relationship.
“A serious threat was made which resulted in fear among a very large number of passengers and staff,” Mr Guy said.
The court was told that Mr Arif repeatedly said words similar to “don’t touch me, there’s a bomb”.
Mr Guy said there was “clear evidence of mental health issues at play” and described Mr Arif’s conduct as “bizarre and irrational behaviour”.
He said Mr Arif exhibited “disturbing behaviour over the last couple of years” in relation to religion, with the court also hearing family members had been concerned about his mood swings and level of instability.
Mr Arif did not react as Mr Guy denied his release application. Mr Arif will return to court in October.